A year after the previous letter, Bobby is on a ship bound for an undisclosed destination. It must have been a difficult position for passengers- aware of the possible dangers from the enemy and weather, but unable to do anything about it. And not likely that they had the entertainments Cynthia had enjoyed two years previously on the Cunard ships! But it did give Bobby a glimpse of the wider world.
2/Lt J.R.Sheedy. R. Signals R.O.A.K.H. c/o A.P.O. 1120
Forgive me for being so long in writing to you, but as I have completely exhausted my store of news in letters written to Mother, I thought it was rather fatuous to repeat the same old story over and over again, so I haven’t written to anyone else.
Now, however, we are in sight of the promised land. In fact we are tied up on the quay and at this moment straining on the leash to get ashore. Naturally enough I am unable to give you the name of the port, but I am allowed to tell you that it’s in the Union of South Africa. Believe me, it will be no small treat to set foot on dry land, particularly in a land flowing with milk and honey. On information received I believe that the inhabitants are the soul of hospitality, and spare no effort to entertain the troops. Consequently, although anticipation may be better than realization, I have a suspicion that I shall manage to fill in the time to some purpose..
Continued Friday 3rd Oct.
We have had our shore leave. Believe me it came up to expectation. I have had about 12 hours sleep in three nights instead of the usual 24. I’m not going into a recital of all our doings in this the Union of South Africa, but I’ll mention last night as an example. They have one night club here, and last night we decided to go. We booked a table in advance, and ordered some bottles from a bottle-store (the club has not a licence for drink). In the afternoon we had been to the pictures (Tom Evans & self), we then had dinner, some drinks, picked up our partners and proceeded to the club in good order. I was desperately tired when we arrived, but after a couple of dances and a couple of glasses of ‘Sparkling Moselle’ I perked up considerably. Well after that we danced and drank and ate, and walked in the Roof Garden until we realised that it had gone 1:30 am. Now our passes expired at 2 am, but as there were numerous senior officers from the ship at the club enjoying themselves, we decided to stay too. The dancing was by now pretty hectic. Everyone was more or less happy, and the floor was packed. We eventually left at 2:15 am, and lost our way in the docks arriving backing the ship at 3:30 am. Fortunately we got aboard without incident. The aftermath of my three days of ‘glorious life’ is now heavy upon me. If I allowed myself to fall asleep I should sleep for weeks.
Two more news items:- there’s a fellow (2/Lt) in the RAOC occupying the cabin opposite mine. His name is Len (Pudding) Rice and he apparently knows Denis Dodds well. I think he was at the Modern School and after that at the R. Grammar.
One morning, I was in Barclays Bank to cash a cheque, and after signing the naval forms applicable, I was standing in a corner of the bank waiting to see the Sub Manager. I turned round and immediately saw a fellow who was at school with me. His name is Woll; I don’t know whether you know him. The last time I saw him was at the Old Assembly Rooms, when I was there at a dance on my Embarkation Leave. I won’t say “It’s a …… world”, but you know what I mean.
Incidentally, I meant to send off my Xmas cards, or perhaps I should say that I intended to buy some to send off, but I’ve been so terribly rushed that I haven’t yet got any. This letter may reach you at Xmas or later, so please accept these my best wishes for a normal happy Xmas and loads of fun at New Year. God, how I wish I could be home for it all but it’s no use bothering about such unlikely things.
Well Cyn I’m nearly asleep. If this letter seems somewhat of mix-up, please forgive me. I’m not used to the gay life you know.
All for now,
P.S. Remember me to Doc & Mrs Ewing and the Allen Family when you see them!